- By Kevin McCarthy
There’s a metaphor somewhere in those loping Jordie Barrett runs on Saturday night. Something about it being what you fondly imagine could always be the case for the Hurricanes.
As in untouchable, and a bit scary. Now granted, the defending was off – although that hasn’t stopped the Canes butchering tries this season.
It was more evident in a way in the linking run down the left hand touchline during Ardie Savea’s try. Barrett is cruising along, his big legs not moving that fast but devouring ground, while the smaller Chiefs defenders, no slugs, are like Wylie E Coyote, cycling away furiously without closing the ground.
Like I say, if only it could always be like that. I bet Jordie thinks so.
As for Ardie’s try? Well, it’s just ordinary miracle working isn’t it. He really needs to lift the bar to impress us, doesn’t he.
Who among the fans leaving the stadium or watching at home wouldn’t have at last had a spring in their step, because without over-egging, it did feel like the team hit something approaching its straps.
The caveat is that this was a struggling Chiefs side, probably about to drop completely out of finals contention. Still you either drop to their level, or stay above, and the Canes did the latter.
From here, there’s plenty of theoretical challenges. Which is what the challenge will be – take the Chiefs win and keep on winning with some style and momentum.
The upside is that we’ve been through the Crusaders’ grinder twice, and don’t have to face it again in regular season.
So do the business with maybe just one loss along the way, get used to winning and winning playing the way the Canes want to play, and look to finals footie with a bit of a swagger.
That’d be the plan wouldn’t it? So simple.
Sam Whitelock’s deal to stay on with the All Blacks provided he has a Japan stint during which he can still be eligible for international duty looks like commonsense.
While no doubt it sets a precedent that a few others will pursue, it’s upto the rugby union to manage that and they seem capable of doing so.
It shouldn’t be the thin end of the wedge whereby ultimately most of the All Blacks ply their trade overseas while still eligible for test rugby, which I suspect would really gut the domestic game.
Periodically its suggested that the eligibility rule needs to be gotten rid of entirely. You would be kissing the local rugby scene goodbye in little short of a generation.
Sure the player drain is worrying and it’s hard to know if and when it will start to be really corrosive. But decisions made in a panic that are hard or impossible to reverse would be disastrous.
Better to be incremental and flexible, and adapt. That’s what the Whitelock decision is.
Beauden Barrett will captain the Hurricanes for a second time this season against the Rebels at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
With Dane Coles unavailable and TJ Perenara on the second of his All Black rest weeks, Barrett will lead the side in the round 12 fixture at a kick-off time this website doesn’t want to promote as it is a direct assault on the community game.
Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree has made three changes from the starting XV from last week’s impressive 47-19 win over the Chiefs.
With Perenara out, Richard Judd makes his second start of the season while Jeff To’omaga-Allen comes in at tighthead prop after Ben May has been ruled out with a minor injury.
There is a first start for lock Isaia Walker-Leawere in what will be his 10th appearance for the Hurricanes since he made his debut against the Brumbies last season.
The Hurricanes squad to face the Rebels is:
15 Jordie Barrett
14 Wes Goosen
13 Matt Proctor
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Chase Tiatia
10 Beauden Barrett (c)
9 Richard Judd
8 Reed Prinsep
7 Ardie Savea
6 Vaea Fifita
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere
4 James Blackwell
3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen
2 Asafo Aumua
1 Fraser Armstrong
16 Ricky Riccitelli
17 Toby Smith
18 Alex Fidow
19 Kane Le’aupepe
20 Liam Mitchell
21 Du’Plessis Kirifi
22 Finlay Christie
23 James Marshall